Heavy Rains Cause Sewage Spills

Ross Tanimoto
Ross Tanimoto

(KHNL) - The heavy rains may be gone for now, but unpleasant reminders of Mother Nature still linger.

Rain has caused several sewage spills across Oahu this week.

On Wednesaday and Thursday, close to 25,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Kaneohe Bay and yesterday, 64,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled into Honolulu Harbor.

"Yes, whenever you have sewage spills and the public is exposed to it, it's always a concern," said Ross Tanimoto, chief for the City and County of Honolulu's Environmental Services Department.

He says whenever it rains, rainwater can enter the sewage system through cracks in pipes causing them to overflow and they also blame residents who drain their roof gutters into the sewers.

"We try to evaluate our system to make sure no one's illegally hooked up, in other words, letting their downspouts hooking up to our sewers," said Tanimoto.

Crews also try to prevent spills by putting smoke into the lines, which helps them identify any cracks in the pipes. But spills, like yesterday's at Sand Island, still happen.

"That's why in light of spills, we post signs, we do samplings, pretty much notify the public to stay out of the body of water that may have sewage in it," said Tanimoto.

So health experts say to stay away from brown water. Experts are monitoring bacteria levels in the water on a daily basis and will pull those warning signs when it's safe to go back in.